Hello. This may be a little long, but I thought I would share my own experience.
I checked myself into my local ER that has a psychiatric hospital inside the regular hospital. I was asked questions about my diet and what was wrong and if I had insurance, then I was taken into a private ER room to be watched until the psych aids could collect me. Even if you don't have insurance a hospital can not turn you away. They may have to arrange for you to be sent by ambulance or taxi to another facility, but the threat of a lawsuit is bad for their reputation and it is more economical for them to risk helping you and you not pay the bill as opposed to you or a family member suing them for not helping you in your time of need.
I was collected to the psych ward and they took my blood and asked for a urine sample to look for any medical causes of my depression and suicidal thoughts. They may take your medical history at this stage, during the admissions process, or when you speak to a psychiatrist later on. I had to tell my story at each stage
but it was just so they could get a complete picture.
They counted my stay including weekends because I checked myself in, but I quickly came to meet people that did not get weekends counted. They were the people forced to stay there. Through my stay I met with a physician and psychiatrist to make sure I was doing well each day (minus the weekends). They checked my blood pressure daily because I have high blood pressure, but they tend to check everyone. I shared my room with another male who was mousy and quiet, so I didn't mind him being there.
The food was actually delicious. I am a vegetarian and they were accustomed to meeting my needs and I never left feeling hungry. In fact I couldn't eat it all, and I am overweight so they were not skimping on my food to help me lose it. The staff was aware of my situation and attentive to my needs, but they held a professional distance and didn't interact much with patients unless they needed to. Except for one Sunday when many of the male staffers joined the patients for a football game. Nothing else was going on and the place was dead, so I doubt a supervisor would have minded.
The patients came from all walks of life and had a variety of issues. One patient received shock therapy which surprised me as I didn't realize it was used anymore, but she told me later that it was really the only thing that helped to stabilize her and that she felt like it was only used as a last option. The psychiatrists did not rush me during our sessions and they did not seem uninterested or wishing they were somewhere else. They gave me courtesy so I made sure to give them the respect they deserved. I thanked them and said please when appropriate, which I think went a long way.
It is not an easy experience. All states have different regulations and all hospitals have different policies. We were locked onto a floor but we were escorted to make soda runs and given gym access and a chance to get fresh air. Do not be afraid of getting yourself help if you need to do so. Feel free to message me if you have any specific questions.